and Lemon Balm, Melissa and Lemon Verbena
Hydrosols and Essential Oils
Melissa and Lemon Verbena
are two plants that produce fine hydrosol. They generally can be
interchanged for the other in teas and treatment.
Introduction Hydrosols are the water from the distillation process
which contain both the water-soluble parts of the plant as well as the
herbal extracts and tiny drops of the powerful essential oil as well. All
three of these components give the delicious lemon scent and essential oil
and herbal therapy.
Melissa officinalis - Lemon Balm
Name Lemon Balm is the common name of Melissa officinalis.
Melissa refers to honey or the honey-bee because the plant is so
attractive to bees; and officinalis means a plant that is officially used
Botany This plant naturalizes easily, reproduces by underground
stems and will grow up to 18 inches in height, spreading easily.
Use of the Herb The herb tea is a delicious drink or can be
used therapeutically for soothing stomach cramps, indigestion and nausea.
It is also lightly stimulating and a good tea to drink when studying.
When to Distill Melissa should be distilled before it flowers.
The entire above ground plant is taken, the heavier stems discarded and
steam-distilled. It produces about 1 quart of hydrosol per pound of fresh
plant distilled. The proportion of essential oil produced is very small
about 0.02% by weight.
Use of the Hydrosol MELISSA, or Lemon Balm, is one of the most
expensive of the essential oils but the hydrosol is affordable. The herb
has potent uses in skin and body care. The essential oil costs as much as
$1 per drop but along with the essential oil is produced a wonderful
hydrosol. The hydrosol is available now for all your skin needs. This
watery distillate, the hydrosol which is the first 25% of the
distillation, contains all the potency of the essential oil as well as the
powerful therapeutic effects of the herbal extract. The pH is often a bit
higher than other hydrosols because the herb is so light and it is very
difficult to pack the still enough to get a good weight and thus a good
pH, about 5 or so.
The hydrosol has powerful and positive uses for any skin care product. It
is antifungal, relieves skin infection and breakouts and can cure herpes.
The hydrosol is considered useful in tonic drinks for 'attention deficit
disorder' and dietary uses. Has a wonderful lemony scent that is
attractive to men and women as well as the teenage market.
Other Uses for Melissa hydrosol: Spritzer for face and body for
emotional calmness, soothing anger, and relieving insomnia. One teaspoon
added to clay mask for skin healing; add to regular tea for a new
delicious taste treat.
Use of the Essential Oil The properties are hypotensive, a
calming sedative and anti-inflammatory. Melissa oil is used for insomnia,
hysteria and irritability by inhalation and will relieve a cold sore if
Scent of the Essential Oil Melissa essential oil has a citrus,
herbaceous and somewhat vegetative odor with a bit of fresh fern note. If
it doesn't have the vegetative subsidiary note it probably is not a true
Melissa oil. Melissa oil does not smell like Lemon or May Chang oil.
Chemistry of the Essential Oil Components include 22-36%
citronellal; 11-26% citral or 36% in the top leaves alone; 10-15%
b-caryophyllene; 10-20% germacrene D.
A powerful anti-viral. Has many chemotypes and many chemical varieties.
Most interesting is that this scent which is very citrus, also has back
notes of a sweet wood. This is a very expensive oil and not the least like
other citrus scents.
Melissa - Melissa officinalis L. Research Findings. In
Melissa, a reasonable minimum yield of oil is 0.05 - 0.1%, and in
Mediterranean countries it reaches 0.2 - 0.3%. The percentage of citral
depends on the seed source, and was found to range between 8.8 and 75.0%,
with citronellal between 1.0 and 52.0%. The Bavarian Research Institute
for Soil and Plant Production (Germany), examined a collection of 101
provenance/cultivars of Melissa and evaluated the best types. The
percentage of citral is highest in young leaves and just before flowering,
but favorable growing conditions are very important. After a 6 months
period of storage, the citral content decreases from 84 to 50%. As the
plants become older, the percentage of citral decreases from 37 to 12%,
and citronellal increases from 1 to 32%. In new plantations in Africa, the
oil is extracted directly from fresh plants using an advanced method of
extraction with 1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane. The very low oil yield of
Melissa, and comparative difficulties connected with the distillation of
fresh material together with quick oil decomposition, initiated a quest
for other plants with high percentages of lemon-scented monoterpenes. Nepeta
cataria ssp. citriodora and Dracocephalum moldavica were
investigated for their volatile oil content and quality.
EATWELL FARM is a 65-acre organic farm and orchard located in Dixon, CA.
40-50 crops are produced organically including Lemon Verbena and many
types of Lavender. They produced their own culinary salts, hydrosols and
some essential oils, oils, sugar scrubs and sachets. 800/648-894.....www.lavenderfarm.com
Rights Reserved 2003. No part of this article may be used
VERBENA ALOYSIA TRIPHYLLA (Lippia citriodora Kunth. syn. Verbena
General Information. This scent is strongly citrus with a floral
note and a woody finish. It is expensive and often other oils are
substituted for it. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. The
tea is helpful for sleeping, the hydrosol has the opposite effect and when
sprayed on the face, it can help to keep you awake on a long drive.
Name Verbena means sacred boughs and plants used medicinally;
Aloysia is after Maria Louise, the Princess of Parma who died in 1819 and
triphylla means leaves in whorls of threes.
Use of the Herb The herb tea is very useful as a tonic beverage
to be taken before bed for sleeping. It is a delicious tea and can be
drunk anytime as it is relaxing and soothing. It has found use in the
treatment of Crohn's disease which is an anti-inflammatory disease which
affects the gastro-intestinal tract.
When to Distill Distill the leaves prior to flowering, discard
the heavier stems. During or after flowering, citral is reduced while
other components are increased.
Scent Green, vegetative, herbaceous and floral with a strong
citrus character. Lemon verbena is different from either Melissa or Lemon
Chemistry of the Essential Oil Chemical components are
identified as 35-40% citral (a combination of neral and geranial); 13%
limonene, 6% citronellol, 6% geraniol, nerol 5%; many other components.
Essential Oils 1976-1992 by Brian Lawrence.
Use of the Essential Oil This essential oil is a powerful
anti-inflammatory, fever reducer and sedative. It is generally inhaled for
stress, insomnia, depression, nervous fatigue and to help during an
asthmatic crisis. Strongly anti-viral, it is applied directly to a cold
sore to reduce pain and symptoms.
Sources These two plants are available as hydrosol and
essential oil and available from a variety of companies. For a list,
please contact the Aromatic Plant Project or Prima Fleur at 415/455-0957.
Perfumer & Flavorist. vol. 24, May/June 1999, p 52.
Rose, Jeanne. 375 Essential Oils & Hydrosols. Frog 1999.
Rose, Jeanne. An Herb for Skin Care. Aromatic Plant Project Press Release.
Rose, Jeanne. Herbs & Things. Last Gasp. 2001
Author Background Jeanne Rose has been working as an educator in herbs
and aromatherapy since 1967. She has written over 18 books and would be
happy to send you a catalog of books and products if you will leave your
name and address at 415/564-6785 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
without prior permission from The Aromatic Plant Project.
©Author's Copyright and Jeanne Rose, email@example.com